weekend links: queer fabulism, Losing Earth, Anders Carlson-Wee

Dmitri Vrubel,  My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love  (1990). Image courtesy Joachim Thurn, Wikimedia Commons/ Frieze.

Dmitri Vrubel, My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (1990). Image courtesy Joachim Thurn, Wikimedia Commons/Frieze.

In Joan Morgan’s first book, When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost, published in 1999, she coined the term “hip-hop feminism.” Her newest book, She Begat This, explores the release of Lauryn Hill’s iconic album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as a cultural moment and how Hill paved the way for black female pop stars today. She also discusses what Hill was unable to express, and the issues still ignored or silenced. “We need to talk about black women’s health,” she says. “We need to talk about the things that are making us stressed out. We are carrying such stress within our bodies but not acknowledging that some of it comes from home.” [The Paris Review]

Fabulist stories “make physical what is otherwise ephemeral or ineffable in an attempt of understanding those things that we struggle the most to talk about: loss, love, transition.” In a new wave of fabulist writing by women, queerness and the body are subject matter and themes that use the surreal genre to interrogate gendered and sexualized issues. “These women have hit on the strangeness of occupying a queer or female body, and they’re making the world around those bodies strange as well.” [The Outline]

Images of Trump and Putin kissing have been smacked across the Internet, from art critic Jerry Saltz’s Twitter account to The New York Times. Saltz took his tweet down amid backlash, apologizing for the inherent homophobia in his post. The Trump-Putin lip-lock meme is complicated by the fact that one of its first instantiations was an image by the Lithuanian artists Mindaugas Bonanu and Dominykas Čečkauskas, which itself referenced the mural on the Berlin Wall by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel depicting Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Hönecker sharing a kiss. The image has different implications across cultures and communities and can be read as empowering by LGBTQ groups in places like Russia, where visibility of LGBTQ communities is meager. [Frieze]

“Nearly everything we understand about global warming was understood in 1979.” In this two-part in-depth article, journalist Nathaniel Rich explores the characters who tried and failed to derail our apocalyptic pact with fossil fuels from 1979 to 1989. Photographs and video taken in 2017 punctuate the piece, making unavoidable the links between the earth we had and the earth we are swiftly losing. “Everyone knew—and we all still know. We know that the transformations of our planet, which will come gradually and suddenly, will reconfigure the political world order. We know that if we don’t act to reduce emissions, we risk the collapse of civilization.” [The New York Times Magazine]

This disappearance of one’s own home is more imminent for some than others. Malaysian artist Pui Wan makes miniatures of sites in her home, Kuala Lumpur, to document them before they are demolished. Not long after the making of this video, one of the miniatures featured, a local coffee shop, was torn down, to be replaced by new construction. “It’s not just a model; it’s not just a miniature for decoration.” [Atlas Obscura]

The poet Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem “How To” was published by The Nation and then swiftly redacted with an apology by the poetry editors. It now stands prefaced by an editors' note. The poem came under fire for its presentation of a written form of blackface, taking the perspective of what many have interpreted to be a homeless black woman. Roxane Gay, Hilton Als, and many others denounced the poem. Gay tweeted, “It is not that a white man used black vernacular. It’s that he did it badly and inconsistently and that is a problem. It demonstrates a lack of nuance or understanding about blackness.” Many on the other side were quick to critique this perceived culture of “censorship” as an example of “political correctness” gone overboard. This op-ed, written by John McWhorter, a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, examines the history of the use of Black English in America and Carlson-Wee’s poem’s place within that history. [The Atlantic]

—Juliet Gelfman-Randazzo

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